Digitally Naive

I spent the weekend more or less offline and with the neglected iMac mostly switched off in continued lonely isolation. This state of affairs would perfectly suit The Lovely One, who feels I spend altogether too much time and too much attention at the computer and online. (In fact, the brief time I was active electronically on Saturday involved reconciling my checking account, a procedure that, thanks to my recent upgrade to Office 2011, involved some loud and repetitive cursing when the program did not respond as expected/formerly usual — behavior which did not decrease her disenchantment with my digital alter-life.)

Ironically, however, my lack of presence in this cyberspace on Sunday was entirely due to my (false) computer expertise. Janet and I spent the day (a good part of it, anyway) assisting her parents in their first computer purchase.

I haven’t been particularly present online in recent weeks otherwise, continuing my (subjective) month of substitute teaching in the current version of my former job. Although I have started using the teacher’s computer to check e-mail (on one account), the blog and even Facebook newsfeed, I have attempted not to get digitally mesmerized into neglecting my temporarily academic responsibilities and classroom supervision duties (and I found that I somehow, even with what I know is the correct password, can’t at school get onto my WordPress dashboard).* So in several ways it seemed multiplicitly ironic that my electronic lack of savvy was called into play to help the parents-in-law.

Fortunately, I had few alternatives among which to choose in making what few (if important) recommendations I did propose.

My beloved appears to have an unhealthy love of Best Buy. It is where we purchased her laptop half a decade back and our “new” flatscreen TV much more recently. Admittedly, she does at present possess a mostly unused Best Buy gift card that she won in some campaign at her job (but she doesn’t ever use it, regardless how many cute hints I drop about a new iPad being the best use of her unexpended magic stash of miracle cash), and I presume some recent visits to the excessively busy atmosphere of the electronic big box store might have something to do with her unexpended freebie. It was to the big blue (-black)-and-yellow that we took her folks on Sunday.

Although I would have plumped for the greater expense of a Macintosh of some variety, I realized that The Lovely One would prefer her folks to become Windozed like the rest of the cybernet majority, so we headed straight to the displays of Hewlett-Packard desktops (of which there were but three, although with as many more unexhibited models featured on sale tags). Janet’s workplace is fully HP**-ed, as is her laptop, and her sister (or someone) had an (evidently not uncommon) dismal experience with Dell, which apparently poisoned the wifely mind against all manufacturers other than the failed Senatorial candidate in California’s former company.

After just some brief examination, we started to consider two models, settling pretty quickly on the middle-range device closely equivalent to my iMac (dual-core, 4-gig RAM, terabyte of hard drive). The packaged printer didn’t offer scanning/copier features, so I knew they unwittingly wanted an upgrade from that. We attracted the attention of a lovely staffer, Rachel, who desultorily but effectively helped steer us toward a definite decision (postponed by The Lovely One, who thought we might want to to discuss the choice in a quieter, more low-key environment, the nearby Barnes & Noble cafe). We sipped lattes while estimating costs and those extra expenses you never anticipate (always an issue at Best Buy, at least in my experience), like cables and powerstrips, modem and router. We even discussed possible ISPs.

I hadn’t realized that the parents were innocent of as much as they were, even believing they would require a whole extra phone line just for the computer (not these days, people, even in the remote wilds of nearly rural Iowa). And I am glad that even our half-baked and mostly inept support and advice made the elders feel more comfortable about this big purchase. Yep, we trundled back to the big blue box and (they) bought.

Now we’re just left with the dilemma of deciding whether we actually recommend Qwest*** as their Internet Service Provider. In light of my history there, a disturbing dilemma indeed.

Of course, once they do get online (postponing the Geek Squad’s rather expensive visit, $130, to set up the entire home network and desktop package, until after my substituting is over, permitting me to be present while the installation occurs) I will have to be careful what I choose to write about them…

* And keeping a wayward, aged sub off inappropriate connections is only good policy, however accidentally.

** Or considering the company logo, should it be: “hP-ed”?

*** And inconveniently Qwest just cut off my internet connection as I tried to proofread this post, a mere twenty minutes after booting up.

Qwest, the corporation that brought “snafu” to fully acronymic fruition.

©2011 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

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